Vespa's recipes have appeared in "Midwest Living" and "Taste of Home" magazines. She is a recipe tester for "Cook's Illustrated."
Easy Overnight Breakfast Oatmeal
I'll never forget the first time I tasted Bircher's Swiss muesli. Pleasantly sweet and creamy, muesli with yogurt satisfied our appetites and energized us for several hours of skiing. Best of all, this meal is quick, nutritious, and can be made ahead of time.
This recipe is based on Bircher’s original. A Swiss doctor, Maximilian Bircher-Benner developed this recipe at the turn of the 20th century to heal patients in his Zurich sanitarium. The good doctor espoused a diet rich in whole, raw foods—and his belief in the restorative power of food was so strong that he himself ate a bowl of raw oats and apples before his own meals, too. When Bircher's fellow physicians first heard of his revolutionary ideas, many stormed out of his conferences in outrage.
We’ve all seen the muesli sold in supermarkets—the kind packaged in boxes and sold in the cereal aisle. This commercial variety is a far cry from Bircher's original recipe.
Why should you eat muesli? The primary reasons are that it's delicious and healthy. In addition, since no cooking is required, it's quick and easy to prepare. Not only that, the recipe is endlessly customizable; for example, it can be made with any fresh fruit you have on hand.
Let's take a look at the recipe for Bircher's Swiss muesli. I'll tell you about the many possible substitutions you can make, as well as tips for preparation, serving, and storage. Once we've covered all of that, I'll share a bonus recipe for a quick and easy variation for those times when you're in a hurry. And as if you needed any more reasons to consider adding muesli to your breakfast menu, I'll tell you about all of the health benefits of this wonderful dish.
|Prep time||Ready in||Yields|
- 1 cup (90 g) raw, old-fashioned oatmeal
- 1 cup (225 mL) low-fat yogurt or kefir, any flavor
- 1 cup (225 mL) whole or skim milk
- 1 Tablespoon (20 mL) honey, to taste
- 1 apple, cored
- 1 pear, cored
- 1 fresh mango or peach, pitted, peeled, and chopped
- 1 Tablespoon (15 g) almonds, pecans, or walnuts, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon (15 g) raisins or chopped, dried fruit
- Combine oatmeal, yogurt, milk, and honey. Start with 1/2 cup of milk and set aside for about 15 minutes, until oatmeal absorbs the liquid. Add more milk if a thinner consistency is desired.
- Chop or dice fresh fruit. Grated apple gives muesli a smoother texture, but the muesli will also oxidize more quickly.
- Combine oatmeal mixture with the fresh fruit, nuts, and raisins, stirring gently with a spatula so as not to bruise the fruit.
- Sprinkle with seasonal berries, such as blueberries or raspberries, if available, for a gourmet touch. Or choose ground flaxseeds or chia seeds for extra fiber and nutrients.
- Yogurt - If you are lactose intolerant, replace dairy yogurt with soy or almond yogurt.
- Milk - Again, for those who are lactose intolerant, replace dairy milk with almond milk, soy milk, or fruit juice.
- Raw oats - Try using old-fashioned or quick oats.
- Honey - Substitute sweetened condensed milk, maple syrup, agave syrup, or a dusting of stevia.
- Raisins - Replace with dried cranberries, blueberries, or other dried fruit.
- Almonds - Substitute hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, or sunflower seeds.
- Pear - If you're not a fan of pear, you can replace with an additional apple.
- Fresh mango and fresh peach - If these aren’t available, don’t be afraid to substitute another sweet, soft fruit—or even canned peaches (2 peach halves) or fruit cocktail (2 Tablespoons). They add a natural sweetness to the muesli.
- This recipe makes just one or two servings. We usually double or quadruple the quantities so we can eat muesli for several days.
- We prefer sweet, crisp apples, such as Fuji or Honeycrisp.
- A sharp knife makes cutting fruit easier and cuts it cleanly without bruising. Better yet, enlist a helper to hurry along the process.
- This recipe makes muesli that is the consistency of thick oatmeal. If you like it thinner, add more milk or liquid of choice.
- Muesli is fun to make with kids. The adult can do the chopping, while the child can help measure and stir ingredients.
- If the yogurt or kefir is pourable, you may need less milk or juice. The oatmeal/yogurt mixture should be thin enough to pour when you mix in the fruit. It will thicken as it rests.
- To cut calories, buy plain, low-fat yogurt or kefir. Sweeten with stevia instead of honey, if desired.
- Sprinkle with flaxseed or chia seeds for extra fiber and heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Try muesli for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
- Since oxygen is the mortal enemy of cut fruit, store muesli in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for several days.
- If you want to store muesli for a few days, an apple like Granny Smith oxidizes more slowly because of its lower sugar content.
Quick and Easy Muesli Recipe
Now that we've covered the original Bircher's Swiss muesli recipe, let's talk about a quick recipe you can make if you're short on time. This recipe is simple but very satisfying, nonetheless. Serving size: one.
- 1/2 cup quick oats, raw
- 1/2 cup yogurt, any flavor
- 1/2 cup whole or skim milk
- 1 apple, cored and chopped or grated
- Combine oats, yogurt, and milk. Allow it to rest.
- Core and chop apple, or use a large grater to shred the apple.
- Add to yogurt mixture and stir. Add more milk if you like a thinner consistency.
For this recipe, we prefer Braeburn, Fuji, or another sweet and crisp apple variety.
Health Benefits of Eating Raw Oats and Yogurt
- Weight loss: Oats contain more soluble fiber than most other grains. This fiber absorbs large quantities of water, slowing the digestive process and making you feel full longer, which helps control weight.
- Digestibility: Due to soluble fiber, oats are more digestible than other grains. Although in the United States oats are most often consumed in cooked form, raw oats are easily digested. Just soak in yogurt and milk for at least 30 minutes, or overnight, before adding fruit.
- Cardiovascular health: It’s a well-known fact that oats can help lower harmful cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of heart disease. Oats also help control blood glucose levels, may reduce high blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as colorectal cancer.
- Mental health: Oats contain inositol, which can act as a natural anti-depressant.
- Nutrition: Oats contain numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also a good source of protein.
- Full of “good” bacteria, or probiotics, yogurt benefits intestinal health and immune function.
- Yogurt is a good source of calcium. For those who suffer from lactose intolerance, try a non-dairy yogurt such as almond or soy yogurt.
- Since yogurt makes you feel full, it can contribute to weight loss.
Share Your Ideas!
You can make Swiss muesli with any fruit you have on hand. Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!